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A guest post by Christine Anderson.

“Encore!” the strange little man cried in delight. Even on his tiptoes, he was barely tall enough to see my friend Amy sitting on the top bunk bed. But there he remained for the better part of an hour, cheering each time she pierced one of her tender blisters with a needle before carefully draining the sticky, yellow pus.

This scene repeated—sans cheerleader—day after day as Amy and I made our way across the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage trail in northern Spain. The Camino is renowned for tearing up pilgrims’ feet, and Amy’s were no exception. By the time we finished, she had blisters on top of blisters.

I tell this story not to be disgusting, but because I think the Camino has a lot to teach us about marketing. Like many pilgrims on the Camino, business owners often view marketing as an endless road of drudgery. And it’s true, marketing yourself is downright hard at times. You might avoid it altogether—it’s a lot of work, after all. You’re busy enough just handling day-to-day operations. And what good is it really going to do?

But marketing is essential to keeping your business out of the feast-and-famine cycle. And if my time on the Camino de Santiago is any indication, there are a few things you can do to make dreaded tasks more enjoyable:

1.)
Break your goals down into smaller, more achievable steps.
When you’re walking the Camino, you can’t think too much about the hundreds of miles ahead. You’ve got to focus solely on making it to the next mile marker or town. In your business, this might mean getting your newsletter started or updating your website. By taking smaller steps each day or week, you get closer to a self-sustaining marketing system. So, don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture. Instead, look at what you can practically do today to grow your business.

2.)
Seek out wise counsel before you begin the journey.
If I ever walk the Camino again, I will definitely do some things differently. For example, I will wear hiking boots instead of tennis shoes. And I will not stuff my backpack full of Power Bars in fear of going hungry. If only I had asked more questions before I left! Likewise, many business owners make costly and time-consuming mistakes when they first start marketing themselves. Some open Twitter accounts and then abandon them, making their businesses look unreliable. Others pay thousands of dollars for a website designer, but spend hours writing the copy themselves, only to get mediocre results. So many mistakes could be avoided—and money and time saved—if business owners just asked for help. Yes, this advice may not come free, but it saves much more than it costs over the long run.

3.)
Don’t go it alone.
Walking the Camino de Santiago is in many ways a miserable experience. Blisters aside, pilgrims contend with unpredictable weather, crowded inns and wild dog attacks (more rumor than reality, but still threatening). Yet the month I spent on the Camino remains the most enjoyable of my life, largely because of the people I was with. The same is true when it comes to marketing. With the right person at your side—whether he or she is a business coach, a copywriter or from a marketing agency—you can transform the drudge work of marketing into something positive and even fun.

Naturally, there were days on the Camino that I wanted to quit and go home—like the time we walked six hours through the rain. Fortunately, I kept going, and in retrospect, the difficulties seem small in comparison to what I accomplished. Marketing works the same way. Putting yourself out there often feels frightening and unrewarding at first. But that’s when you hunker down and put one foot in front of another. Before long, the work starts to pay off in new business, and you find yourself wondering why you didn’t take action sooner.

And in case you’re wondering, Amy’s feet healed just fine. If only I could say the same about my heart—it’s still pining for the Camino!

Christine Anderson is a travel copywriter. She publishes Travel Marketing Monthly, a newsletter for travel businesses and destinations. Find her at www.sterlingwriter.com and on Twitter.

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